As recruiting picked back up from the recent dead period, staffs across the country began making the rounds. The first commitment after Christmas break turned out to be Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson linebacker Ron Prelow, who picked ISU over Vanderbilt, Tennessee and South Florida.
More commitments could be coming soon, as this weekend figures to be an important one and an ISU staff that is preparing to host in excess of a dozen players from four different states.
It was already known that the Denton (Texas) running back Anthony Alridge, Houston (Texas) Kashmere defensive end Jason Berryman and Citra (Fla.) North Marion cornerback Jermaine Thomas would be heading to Ames. But Cyclone Nation has learned the names of several more visitors.
Defensive end prospect Eddie McCray, a product of a highly publicized Baytown (Texas) Lee program, will trip to Ames. His high school coach believes a commitment could soon follow.
"I think he'll make a commitment right after he visits," said Lee coach Dick Olin. "He's real high on them. They're Big 12 and it's a great league. Coach McCarney has done a great job. They were really in the spotlight early on. I think Eddie's best football is ahead of him. He did a great job this year and is going to get better."
Olin informed CN this morning that prolific Baytown Lee quarterback Drew Tate, his stepson, would be visiting the ISU campus the weekend of Jan. 24-25. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, who originally committed to Texas A&M when R.C. Slocum was the head coach, broke numerous Texas high school passing marks throughout a stellar four-year career. He also ranks second nationally all-time with 12,183 yards.
Tate is coming off an incredible two-year run in which he combined to throw for 7,529 yards and 74 touchdowns. Also a threat to run, Tate, who ran a 4.6 40 time in the off-season, rushed for 289 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"My stepson is going to visit there next weekend," Olin said. "He had committed to Texas A&M and with the coaching change they're going to run a lot of option. Drew likes to throw it. He started for us four years and to start as a freshman down there in Class 5A is amazing. He's a thrower and can run. He's a good kid and knows a lot about the game. He's been around it for a while now."
In recent years Baytown Lee has produced three quarterbacks who have made their marks at the next level. Jermaine Alford started for Baylor and now plays in the Arena Football League. Dallas Cowboy reserve Clint Stoerner attended Arkansas. Olin also tutored Kansas State starting signal-caller Ell Roberson.
Another interesting connection that gives the Cyclones an excellent chance of securing commitments from Tate and McCray is their coach grew up in Iowa. Olin is originally from Cedar Rapids and got his start as a head coach in the state of Iowa.
"My first head coaching job was at Cedar Rapids Washington and then I came to Texas in 1983," Olin said. "I was the quarterback at Northern Iowa for Stan Sherriff. I know Mike Woodley and Terry Allen both. I've told (Eddie and Drew) that it's a great place to get a degree and the state has good people. There are basically two schools with Iowa and Iowa State. The state doesn't have professional athletics like we do down here, so you don't compete like in Houston."
Davidson's visit now set
Two separate news outlets reported Monday that Hurst (Texas) L.D. Bell two-way standout Nick Davidson had committed to ISU. CN, which refuted the report, learned Tuesday morning that Davidson had finally scheduled an official visit for this weekend to Ames.
L.D. Bell coach Ross Dodson said Davidson had gotten in contact with an ISU coach and finalized plans for a trip.
But there is only one catch…literally. Davidson has yet to qualify academically and will need to retake his ACT this spring.
"The odds of him making it are great," Dodson said. "It's just one point."
Davidson was a dominating physical player at L.D. Bell and is being recruited to play on either side of the ball.
"It was a mystery," Dodson said. "He can do either side. Some came in and said they like him at defensive tackle, but others thought they'd use him at tight end. Some coaches even thought he could move inside and play offensive tackle, because he's an amazing blocker. It's hard to say where he's going to end up."
Davidson finished with 107 pancake blocks as an offensive lineman/tight end, while catching 10 passes for 250 yards. On defense he contributed 50 tackles, four sacks and 15 quarterback hurries in a part-time role.
More beef on its way to Ames
When CN spoke with Oklahoma City Northeast lineman Anthony Walker a few weeks ago he said he was planning a visit to Ames in the near future. The 6-foot-1, 290-pounder has booked it for this weekend.
Recruitniks may remember Walker as the dominating offensive lineman I reported on during last summer's padded camp. What makes Walker even more valuable is that he also can play as an interior defensive lineman, which could potentially shore up the Cyclones' lack of depth at the position.
What is already an outstanding class of offensive linemen for 2003 could get remarkably better with a commitment from Walker.
CN has also learned from sources another two-way lineman will be a part of this weekend's group of visitors. Marquay Love, a 6-foot-2, 285-pounder from Texas' Crowley High School has set up his visit. Love didn't garner much recognition playing on a Crowley team that finished 2-8 overall and didn't win a game in District 8-4A.
Bartow (Fla.) defensive lineman Bakahri Thornton told CN earlier in the week that he wasn't sure if he'd be taking an official visit to ISU this weekend since he hadn't heard from coaches in a while.
But in a follow-up interview, Thornton informed us that defensive assistant Chris Ash had contacted him to firm up a weekend visit.
ISU's in-state recruiting appeared to be over a few months ago after it had secured commitments from 11 Iowans. But Oelwein's Matthew Scherbring could bring that total to 12. It's unclear whether the Cyclones have offered him a scholarship yet, but the 6-foot-3, 340-pound offensive lineman will visit this weekend.
Another wide receiver on the way?
Saint Petersburg (Fla.) Northeast athlete Dominique Flower has announced he'll be taking an official visit to Ames this weekend. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder earned first-team all-county mention in the Saint Petersburg Times as a defensive back, but another service also made him a second-team all-area wide receiver.
As a senior, Flower led Northeast to a 7-4 overall record and Class 5A playoff berth.
Rare California prep heads east
Through a connection with ISU defensive coordinator John Skladany, the Cyclones have decided to recruit a 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from San Diego's Point Loma High School. Brandon Timlin's father Justis Howard and Skladany have been long-time acquaintances.
Because of the competition and number of schools recruiting California high schools, ISU has shied away from hitting the state hard in past years. The staff had offered a scholarship to Long Beach Poly athlete and recent Oregon State commit Lorenzo Banks-Bursey since he's related to Cyclone wideout David Banks-Bursey.
Timlin is one of at least three defensive ends heading to town this weekend, joining McCray and Berryman. That's a positive for ISU, which has already lost Beau Coleman to graduation and stands to lose Tyson Smith after next season.
Pittsburgh commitment fair game?
Plantation (Fla.) linebacker H.B. Blades had been one of ISU's top linebacker targets for 2003, and even took an official visit to Ames in December. He appeared to be off the market after committing to Pittsburgh later that month.
But with the recent departure of the Panthers' linebacker coach to Clemson, Blades appears to be listening to other programs. Stay tuned.
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